Saturday, July 26, 2014


Auschwitz is a day trip from Krakow and a somber and surreal experience.
I have read quite a bit about WWII and the holocaust and watched many movies but none could have prepared me for Auschwitz.

Basic amenities such as water and sewage disposal were inadequate, and water-borne illnesses were commonplace. Living conditions were brutal and many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, infectious diseases, executions and medical experiments.

There were no words among the visitors. There was silence except for the quiet respectful tone of the guide.

Few words to tell the story are needed. The photos and the signs throughout the camp tell the story.

                                                         Thought provoking

                                                        Entry into the Camp

                                                           View of the Barracks

                                                                Extermination Block

                                          The Road of Death

                                                   Sleeping quarters
                                                   Only stacked slabs


                                                    Toilet Facilities

                                                      Wash room


                                             There were several display cases of belongings
                                             All were similar with items of clothing, eye glasses and other items

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Taste of Budapest

A week in Budapest. Our apartment is 5 minute walk from the Chain Bridge and 5 minutes walk to the Funicular to Buda Castle. There are also stairs extending to Buda Castle from our street. What a delight! There are also several restaurants in the area with Hungarian Food. Budapest is a wonderful walking city. We walked everywhere.

Castle Hill

Castle Hill is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site dating from the 13th century. During WWII it was bombed and had to be rebuilt again. Castle Hill consists of the Royal Palace, home to a number of museums, including the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Museum.
It is a pedestrian only walking area with cobblestone streets, shops and a few restaurants.

     View of Castle Hill from Chain Bridge

    Overlooking Pest from Buda Castle

   Mathias Church

     There is a very nice cafe near Mathias Church with outside seating. We stopped for strudel which
     was very good.

                                            Fisherman's Bastion on Castle Hill
    1800'S Seven Towers representing the Magyar tribes. There is a viewing terrace with Spectacular
    views of Danube, Margaret's Island and Gellert Hill! Remarkable architecture!



                                        Street Musicians Fisherman's Bastion                         

                                       Overlooking Pest from Buda Castle Hill


    Chain Bridge is the first permanent stone bridge connecting Buda and Pest. View approaching the
    bridge from the Pest side. Bridge leads to the funicular to Castle Hill.

      Parliament Building

     A beautiful building which is a must see on a visit to Budapest and is a prominent view from
     Castle Hill.

     The facade includes 90 statues. The interior design includes huge halls, 12.5 miles of corridors, 96
     meter central dome and 891 rooms.
     Tours of the Parliament Building are conducted in multiple languages. Tickets can be purchased
      on line prior to your visit. There is at least an hour wait for tickets if you wait to buy on site. 

     The Parliament is accessible with Line 2 of the Budapest Metro from Lajos Kossuth Square

                                           Changing of the Guards outside Parliament Building


                                     View of Buda from Parliament Building


                                Interior Parliament Building-The Great Hall

                                                            Street Scene


                                      Cafe Scene near the Main Market Hall


                                          St. Stephen's Basilica

                                          Dohany Street Synagogue Largest in Europe 
                                               Top 10 sights in Budapest

                Tree of Life for the Hungarian Holocaust victims. The names of the victims are 
                inscribed on the metal leaves.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Romania-Cluj Napoca and Oradea

My last post on Romania

 In reviewing many photos and writing about my experiences, I recommend travel to Romania for the unspoiled nature, friendly people, culture, history, architecture and the many churches. I plan to return one day.

Cluj Napoca is the largest city in Transylvania and is a very pleasant city. I took a break from camera and photos and simply enjoyed the city. It is a great city to walk around, enjoy the university atmosphere and simply sit in a coffee shop or a cafe and people watch.

The main square has many shops, cafes, coffee shops and restaurants with the 15th century St. Michael's Church.

The Museum Square is a 2 minute walk from Union Square where the Franciscan Monastery is located. It is a combination of baroque and gothic architecture dating back to the 14th Century. The Transylvania History Museum is also located here. 

There is a beautiful Botanical Garden near the university consisting of 14 hectares of Japanese garden, tropical plants and walking trails.

There are two theaters in Cluj: National Theater and Hungarian State Theater. I suggest ordering tickets prior to going to Cluj as the performances were sold out when I was there.

Although I did not visit the Etnography Museum of Transylvania, it may be a museum to visit to understand the culture of transylvania.

I stayed at Villa Confort, Calea Turzi N.48. It is part of the Hotel Confort however in a quiet Villa.
The rate per night is $45. The room had a sitting area separate from the bedroom and overlooked a garden. Very nice shower with water jets. About 10-15 minute easy walk to center of city.

Cluj is easily accessible by train, plane and bus. The travel sites say the train is best however it depends on where you are traveling from. I traveled from Sibui and found that the bus was better, it decreased my travel time by several hours.

The photos below are compliments of Wikitravel

 Orthodox Cathedral                                                St. Michaels Church                              


Well worth a visit for a few days. This city is a gem and enjoyable simply by walking without a destination.  It is 8 km. to Hungary either by bus or train. When I visited, the train tracks were being worked on so needed to take a train across the border, then change to bus for 1 hour and then train to Budapest. It was an easy transfer.

Oradea is on the Crisui Repede River with Baroque architecture from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The atmosphere is very relaxed with a beautiful main street (Calea Republicui) lined with cafes/restaurants and shops with Art Nouveau Buildings.

There are around 100 religious sites of different denominations in Oradea.

The fortress of Oradea was built between 1114-1131 A.D.
                                    The fortress is surrounded by a beautiful park.

                                  Pleasant, relaxed walk along river



                                Hotel Atlantic, Str. Josif Vulcan 9
                                Boutique Hotel with cafe, restaurant next door. Well appointed rooms with small  
                                bar area and large bathroom. 5 minute walk from main pedestrian street.
                                Extremely welcoming and helpful staff.
                                Room rates range from 35 USD to 70 USD